**Hill, M. (n.d.). Superintendent’s message on novels in the core curriculum [Superintendent letter to Burbank Unified School District families, students, and employees]. Available at https://www.burbankusd.org/cms/lib/CA50000426/Centricity/Domain/1332/Superintendents %20Message%20on%20Novels%20in%20the%20Core%20Curriculum.pdf
After a complicated process of complaints, reviews, committees, and appeals, Superintendent Matt Hill made a final decision about which texts should be considered core to the English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum in Burbank Unified School District (BUSD). His decision that The Cay by Theodore Taylor, To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain should be removed from the core (required) curriculum but included as optional texts and still available within school libraries. Hill’s message to the district explains that his decision was guided by BUSD’s commitment to anti-racism and his belief that certain books can play a role in possibly perpetuating structural racism. He follows up the statement with a summary of the committee activities and conclusion.
For more information about the events that led to this decision, please visit https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2020-11-12/burbank-unified-challenges-books-including-to-kill-a-mockingbird.
Clevenger, M. (2022, January 11). Letter to the editor: Burbank High student wants banned books returned to classrooms [Letter to the editor]. MyBurbank. Available at https://myburbank.com/letter-to-the-editor-burbank-high-student-wants-banned-books-returned-to-classrooms/.
While some students, faculty, and community members agreed with Superintendent Hill’s decision to remove some books from the core ELA curriculum, others did not. This letter comes from a student of color in BUSD, sharing her perspective on how the district’s implementation of Superintendent Hill’s decision may actually limit students’ access to the work of Black writers. She writes that censorship is not the only option to protecting Black students from trauma in classrooms and urges the district to reconsider its decision.
Kenney, M. (2022). Teaching the n-word. Available at https://rethinkingschools.org/articles/ teaching-the-n-word/.
This article is written by a white English teacher who shares her experience teaching the n-word at the start of a unit on Fences, a play that uses the n-word. Her article is a description of how her lesson provides students different perspectives on the use of the n-word and if it is ever appropriate, gives students an opportunity to share their own perspectives, and frames her decision to not use the word while they are reading the play. The article includes powerful quotes from her students, who share thoughtful and nuanced views on how the n-word affects them. While not explicitly stated, the author implies that students can read and study texts that contain the n-word if taught and framed appropriately.
Prescott, S. (2019, April 25). How can schools and districts implement and scale queer-inclusive curricula? Available at https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/how-can-schools-and-districts-implement-and-scale-queer-inclusive-curricula/.
Texts that center LGBTQ individuals and affirm their identities have increasingly been challenged in schools across the country. The author of this article argues that getting these texts taught in schools is an important first step but scaling up the adoption and use of inclusive curricula should follow. She advises school and district leaders to make LGBTQ-inclusive content a priority for their instruction, provide professional development and support to educators who are tasked with teaching these materials to students, and develop an open-access collection of strong lesson plans and other resources for educators to borrow and learn from.
**This document is a priority reading.